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Harvard seems to have done a good thing. Its expansion into Allston has not come without its downsides, but it has ushered in vast strides toward ameliorating those tensions. Those strides are neatly packaged in one overarching program, the Harvard Ed Portal, that indulges students and Allston residents alike.
We would first like to applaud Harvard’s efforts. We are heartened to hear that Allston residents themselves find value in the Ed Portal — at the end of the day, that’s what matters most.
The program supplies a broad range of opportunities, such as workforce training, partnerships with public schools, and tutoring positions for Harvard students. This breadth excites us, and we are especially grateful for Harvard’s emphasis on, inclusion, and valuing of trade-based work.
However, our major concern regarding Harvard’s involvement in Allston has been gentrification. Residents have repeatedly raised concerns about the rising cost of living and the displacement of longtime community members. Ultimately, Allston’s residents, not Harvard, should be at the center of this discussion. We caution against any dialogue that would suggest otherwise, framing Harvard as an all-knowing savior institution. That’s why it’s so important Harvard gets this right. This doesn’t, on its own, absolve them of the harms of gentrification, but placing Allston’s community at the forefront of their endeavors is the kind of thing that contributes to outweighing those harms.
The Ed Portal is exactly what we envisioned when we called for Harvard to start battling educational inequity long before they begin reviewing applications. Too often, one side of the conversation demands that universities repair America’s economic inequality in one fell swoop by allocating social mobility to those who enter their doors. Their partners, conversely, contend that inequity begins long before universities can intervene, excusing themselves from solving America’s problem. This kind of free educational outreach from Harvard — a leading university — threads the needle. Education is only socially valuable when as many people as possible have access to it.
We also hope that Harvard’s students will play an important role in Allston. Organizations on campus such as the Phillips Brooks House Association have collaborated with public schools for a long time, building valuable relationships through afterschool and mentorship programs. Harvard should model their own pursuits after the successes of its students.
Reciprocally, its students should eagerly get involved with the Ed Portal. If you come to Harvard uncertain of your life aspirations, the natural grooves to fall into are pre-professional. Manifold powerful companies spend considerable time and money making this an easy track for us to follow. Like these career-oriented cultural impulses, participating in these outreach programs must become a norm that Harvard students default to.
Not only will student engagement strengthen the Ed Portal, but we are confident that those who join will find the experience fruitful. As Harvard cuts back on its teaching programs — like UTEP and GenED 1076 —it should encourage its students to learn what it is to be an educator by taking part in the Ed Portal’s educational programming.
We’re glad to see Harvard taking strides in the right direction, and we hope to see more in the future. More apparency of the Ed Portal’s accessibility for Allston residents who may be turned off by the Harvard name. More financial investment in the program. More student involvement. And most importantly, more inclusion of those who call Allston home.
This staff editorial solely represents the majority view of The Crimson Editorial Board. It is the product of discussions at regular Editorial Board meetings. In order to ensure the impartiality of our journalism, Crimson editors who choose to opine and vote at these meetings are not involved in the reporting of articles on similar topics.
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